The New York Islanders surged with two goals late in the third period, but were unable to complete the comeback, losing to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 Saturday at Nassau Coliseum. Matt Moulson (one goal, two assists) and Kyle Okposo (one goal, one assist) had multi-point games as the Islanders lost at in regulation for the first time in 11 home games.
Head coach Jack Capuano said the team was too eager to pass the puck early on, causing scoring chances to fall apart.
“I don't want to take away their creativity, but tonight you saw one move too much,” Capuano said. “One move too many when we should have just gotten pucks to the net and crashed. That's what happens. We got behind. We were resilient in the third and came back, but that's the way we have to play for 60 minutes.”
Jiri Tlusty scored his first goal of the night a minute into the second period. Evgeni Nabokov stopped Alexander Semin’s shot from the right circle, but the Islanders netminder was unable to get through Eric Staal for the rebound, which Tlusty stashed in the back of the net.
During a Carolina power play five minutes later, Ryan Murphy set up Jordan Staal for his first goal of the season. Murphy pump-faked a shot and made a diagonal pass to the left circle for Staal, who finished the play at the 6:36 mark.
Later in the period, on a failed clearing attempt, Jeff Skinner got behind the Islanders defense, received a pass and backhanded a shot top shelf to make it 3-0 Hurricanes.
The Islanders capitalized on a power play toward the end of the middle period. Andrew MacDonald took a shot from high in the zone and the rebound found Moulson in front for the winger’s third goal of the season. John Tavares earned the secondary assist on the play, extending his scoring streak to seven games (four goals, six assists).
Midway through the third frame, Tlusty netted his second goal of the evening, re-establishing the Hurricanes three-goal lead. Semin made a saucer pass over a defenseman on a 2-on-1, and Tlusty’s shot beat Nabokov five-hole.
Frans Nielsen brought the Islanders to within two a few minutes later on a broken play in front of Carolina goaltender Cam Ward. Tavares threw the puck on net, and while Okposo and Moulson each got a piece of the rebound, it was Nielsen who put it home at the 13:19 mark.
On a late third-period power play, with the goaltender pulled, Okposo scored from the high slot to make the score 4-3. Moulson’s pass for Pierre-Marc Bouchard was broken up, and the puck drifted back to Okposo, who stepped into the shot for his third of the season at 18:59.
The Islanders play down the stretch brought the fans back into the fold, but for Tavares, the team’s effort was too little, too late.
"We did some better things in the third,” Tavares said. “But the urgency, competition level and good habits that make things tough on the other team have to be there right from the get-go."
The Islanders were unable to find the equalizer over the last minute, losing in regulation for just the first time in their last 11 home games, dating back to last season. The club will finish its four-game home stand Tuesday, Oct. 22, when the Vancouver Canucks make their only appearance of the season at Nassau Coliseum.